home
RSS
May 25th, 2011
08:11 AM ET

What causes leg cramps?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Wednesdays, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

Asked by Cleester of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

I am generally a very healthy woman. I frequently wake up at night with painful cramps in the thighs and the back of my legs below the knee. What causes cramps and how can I get rid of them?

Expert answer

Dear Cleester,

Cramping is painful contracture of muscles. It generally lasts for five to 10 minutes and then remits. It can awaken someone from a sound sleep.

Cramping of the legs and feet is very common. Cramping in the hands and arms is seen but less common.

This condition is seen in children or adults of any age. People who have cramping regularly should be seen by a health care provider, even though the cause is often never found after extensive evaluation.

When the cause is found, cramping can be due to prolonged sitting or leg position during sedentary activity.

Perhaps most commonly, cramps can be due to overuse of muscles that are not accustomed to exercise.

The second most common cause is dehydration. Cramps can also be caused by electrolyte and metabolic disorders. Diuretic drugs can commonly cause cramping through dehydration, sodium or potassium depletion.

Parathyroid disease causes high or low calcium levels and is associated with cramping, as is thyroid dysfunction. Parathyroid and thyroid diseases are perhaps a more common cause of cramping in the hands and arms compared with other causes of cramping.

The evaluation of cramping will commonly involve a drug history and blood studies checking sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium levels as well as thyroid function tests.

The physical examination is usually normal in a patient with routine cramping. The health care provider will also be trying to distinguish common cramping from muscle diseases that can mimic it and be an uncommon side effect of commonly prescribed drugs used to lower cholesterol (such as cholestyramine) or decrease stomach acid (cimetidine or ranitidine).

Decreased oxygenation of leg muscles due to peripheral vascular disease and the pain of diabetic neuropathy can also be mistaken for cramps. Leg cramps are best prevented with nondrug treatments.

Daily stretching and muscle strengthening can be very useful in preventing cramps. Stretching the muscle group during the cramp attack can be helpful in relieving it.

Chloroquine or the similar compound quinine (an ingredient of tonic water) has been prescribed to prevent cramping. Chloroquine has recently fallen out of favor.

Calcium channel blockers have become the preferred first medical treatment for cramping in patients who get them often for unknown reasons.

A few people find that a daily dose of vitamin B complex prevents cramping.


soundoff (1,026 Responses)
  1. Go Pro Locksmith Palo Alto

    A great read. I'll definitely be back.

    https://postimg.cc/gallery/BQhMkqx

    May 15, 2021 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. emergency locksmith St. Louis

    Wow this blog is very nice!

    https://www.4shared.com/folder/wPif6Zeo/Master_locksmith_St.html

    May 15, 2021 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. ac repair San Tan Valley

    carry on, dont stop

    https://photos.shutterfly.com/album/1698172424258072

    May 15, 2021 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. web cost

    Your way of describing everything in this paragraph is genuinely pleasant, every
    one be capable of simply understand it, Thanks a lot.

    May 15, 2021 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Content Marketing Boutique

    http://www.audio-iwasaki.com/ys4/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=1551&url=https://lifebusinessfitness.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. avanafil

    avanafil india avana india

    May 15, 2021 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Google Marketing Consultant

    After looking over a number of the articles on your website, I honestly like your technique of writing a blog. I book-marked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my website too and let me know how you feel.

    http://www.track.affclkr.com/track/clicks/3171/c627c2b89e0522dbfe9cbd2e8d2b8914736245cb75e9f0ab416db1046005?t=http://www.callfeeder.com

    May 15, 2021 at 19:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Maserati Leasing Price

    I could not resist commenting. Perfectly written!

    http://dmca.com/Protection/Status.aspx?ID=edc817fd-d796-4c84-abb8-d1cb5b2e3719&refurl=http://club-maserati.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 19:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 2014 Maserati Granturismo Convertible

    I really love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you develop this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own website and would like to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Cheers!

    https://www.dresscircle-net.com/suteki/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=633&url=https://club-maserati.com

    May 15, 2021 at 20:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Night Club

    This is my first time pay a visit at here and i am truly happy to
    read all at single place.

    May 15, 2021 at 23:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Seo Marketing Agencies

    There's definately a lot to find out about this subject. I love all of the points you've made.

    https://simpson-select.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 16, 2021 at 01:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. aika online private server

    https://members.sitegadgets.com/scripts/jumparound.cgi?goto=https://aikareborn.com/wiki/relics_stats/

    May 16, 2021 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. brimonidine

    generic combigan combigan side effects

    May 16, 2021 at 02:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Social Media Marketing Ideas

    https://www.affiliate.joomla-monster.com/idevaffiliate.php?id=789&url=https://affordableranking.com/

    May 16, 2021 at 03:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Social Media Marketing Quote

    http://www.dmvusa.com/get-page-html.php?url=http://www.affordableranking.com

    May 16, 2021 at 06:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Digital Marketing Firm

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality blogs on the internet. I am going to highly recommend this website!

    http://www.kazus.info/url.php?url=http://www.affordableranking.com

    May 16, 2021 at 06:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Online Tutorial

    Whats up this is kinda of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I'm starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    May 16, 2021 at 07:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. covid testing sites near me

    http://www.rentv.com/phpAds/adclick.php?bannerid=116&zoneid=316&source=&dest=https://gopepenergy.com

    May 16, 2021 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. horse trailers in california

    Hey there! I simply wish to offer you a huge thumbs up for the great information you've got right here on this post. I will be coming back to your website for more soon.

    http://www.onionring.jp/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=281&url=http://www.ksubandb.org/?attachment_id=720

    May 16, 2021 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. brimonidine

    brimonidine use combigan generic prices

    May 16, 2021 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. rv shower upgrade

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn't disappoint me just as much as this one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, however I actually believed you would probably have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something that you could fix if you weren't too busy looking for attention.

    /

    May 16, 2021 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Los Angeles Sprinter Repair

    https://www.learnalberta.ca/LegacyLauncher.aspx?&url=https://elejabarrieskola.eu/2019-2020-ikasturtea/3-zikloa/maiatzak-25-31-25-31-de-mayo/

    May 16, 2021 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Maserati Spider

    https://www.sagafrontier.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.maseratis.net

    May 16, 2021 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 2006 Dodge Sprinter 2500 Heater Control Repair

    Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the challenges. It was really informative. Your site is very helpful. Thank you for sharing!

    https://www.tstz.com/link.php?url=https://www.fleetautorepairshop.com/sprinter-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 16, 2021 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Sprinter Rust Repair Panels

    http://forums.womenshealthmatters.ca/gynegals/index.php?app=analytics&module=analytics&controller=link&topic=115902&url=https://fleettruckrepairshop.com/box-truck-frame-repair-shop-near-me

    May 16, 2021 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Service A Mercedes Sprinter

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful article. Thanks for supplying these details.

    http://ad.yp.com.hk/adserver/api/click.asp?b=763&r=2477&u=https://sprintervanrepairshop.com/rv-maintenance-shop-near-me/

    May 16, 2021 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Maserati Photography

    Hello, I do think your website may be having web browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, fantastic website!

    http://footballzaa.com/out.php?url=https://maseratiforum.net

    May 16, 2021 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Sprinter Van Repair Los Angeles

    https://mkblog.cn/go/?url=https://fleetservicesorangecounty.com/utility-truck-repair-shop-near-me

    May 16, 2021 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Sprinter Van Seat Fabric Repair

    http://weblib.lib.umt.edu/redirect/proxyselect.php?url=http://fleetrepairshops.com/box-truck-alignment-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Roof Mounted A/C Leak Repair On Sprinter Van

    http://1000love.net/lovelove/link.php?url=https://www.fleetrepairshops.com/freight-liner-truck-repair-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 04:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Maserati Levante

    https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/recipe/1304991/2?mbid=HDFD&trackback=https://maseratiforum.net/

    May 17, 2021 at 05:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Authorized Mercedes Sprinter Service Centers Near Me

    It’s hard to find well-informed people for this subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    http://www.he-web.com/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=6111&url=https://www.commercialvanrepairshop.com/box-truck-upholstery-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 05:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Sprinter Armrest Repair

    https://smart.link/5bb788a3d5b83?site_id=Web_NBCS_Philly&creative_id=nbcsphi1356&cp_4=www.commercialvanrepairshop.com/ford-cargo-van-repair-shop-near-me&cp_1=washington&cp_2=myteams-nbc-sports&cp_3=nbcsphi1356

    May 17, 2021 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Dodge Sprinter Service

    Good article. I am going through some of these issues as well..

    http://adnet.infonet.com.br/get/ad.dll/click?codigo=2259&secao=460&url=http://fleettruckrepairshop.com/wrap-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Repair My 2006 Dodge Sprinter 3500 Rv

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes that make the biggest changes. Many thanks for sharing!

    https://assine.hostnet.com.br/cadastro/?rep=17&url=https://fleetservicesocrv.com/semi-truck-dent-repair-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RV Leak Orange County

    http://flash.wakunavi.net/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=333&url=https://mail.rhondaspencer.com/index.php?showimage=167

    May 17, 2021 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Remodel Los Angeles

    Right here is the right web site for everyone who wishes to find out about this topic. You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic which has been discussed for decades. Great stuff, just excellent!

    https://www.shareist.com/go2.php?to=https://guenterreiter.eu/index.php?option=com_phocaguestbook&view=phocaguestbook&id=1&Itemid=4&limitstart=55300

    May 17, 2021 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. motor home repair parts

    http://guodu.h5uc.com/h5.php?url=https://mattwestenburg.com/whos-joe-and-why-are-we-drinking-him-matt-westenburg/

    May 17, 2021 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Maserati Quattroporte Vs Ghibli

    This is a very good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very precise info… Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read article!

    http://aidenpan.com/home/link.php?url=https://maseratiforum.net

    May 17, 2021 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Buy hydrocodone online without prescription ----- Buy Percocet online

    I know this web site presents quality dependent posts and additional material,
    is there any other web site which presents these kinds of information in quality?

    May 18, 2021 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. rv remodel supplies

    https://f4.hqlabs.de/Helper/LinkHelper.aspx?mailingId=2847766&href=https://ocrvcenter.com

    May 18, 2021 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Busty Maserati

    Hi, I do believe this is a great website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may come back yet again since I bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

    https://www.arida.biz/sougo/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=27&url=https://www.maseratis.net

    May 18, 2021 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. financial group near me

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Thank you for providing this information.

    https://www.icr.ro/engine/track.php?nlid=368&email=altmarius1@gmail.com&url=http://menmastermind.com

    May 18, 2021 at 19:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. heating & air conditioning repair near me

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!

    http://demo.html5xcss3.com/demo.php?url=cool-air-tech.com

    May 18, 2021 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Nearest Optician

    Hi! I simply want to give you a huge thumbs up for the excellent info you have got here on this post. I am coming back to your web site for more soon.

    https://site-navi.net/sponavi/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=890&url=https://optometristphoenixaz.com

    May 19, 2021 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Roofing Contractors Near Me

    After I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment. Is there an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks!

    https://www.triathlon.org/?URL=www.sanmarinoroof.com/

    May 19, 2021 at 03:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. black beauty energy pills

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be useful to read articles from other authors and use a little something from other sites.

    https://www.suzuki.saikyou.biz/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=5&url=https://www.energygopep.com/

    May 19, 2021 at 04:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Micheal Smith

    Great post! I like to learn, and I have learned something! Thanks you very much keep the good work!

    https://twitter.com/Michael84141289

    May 19, 2021 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Local Marketing Firms

    https://api.nanigans.com/target.php?app_id=75308&nan_pid=1816769838&target=http://spokanevalleyseo.com/

    May 19, 2021 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Jet Ski Rental Parker Az

    bookmarked!!, I love your website!

    http://www.arrowscripts.com/cgi-bin/a2/out.cgi?id=66&l=bigtop&u=https://nevadapwcrentals.com

    May 19, 2021 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Leave a Reply to Digital Marketing Firm


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.